The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998

Southwestern Historical Quarterly

mining that swept Anna Rechtel into the Rawhide region of Nevada and
Panamint Annie, noted for unconventional living and a string of husbands,
into Death Valley. It was 1971 before the law was amended that forbad women
underground, a law based on the old superstition that a woman underground
was bad luck. In 1971 when rock mechanic Janet Bonema won an anti-
discrimination class-action suit that allowed her underground, sixty men
walked off the job.
The number of women prospectors is small: between 1850 and 1950, seventy-
seven women are known to have prospected, and nineteen more were "physical-
ly engaged in mining. " Zanjani believes records of many more may be forever
lost. Certainly, Zanjani had to work from scant primary sources: one woman left
a memoir, two were the subject of biographies, a couple left diaries, and some
articles in mining-town newspapers have been preserved in archival collections.
Beyond that Zanjani had to rely on secondary sources, many of them from the
last half of this century.
Zanjani tells the women's stories individually but in the epilogue looks at
them as the sociologist she is, classifying them in terms of age (most were older,
although prospecting was generally done by younger men), marriage (many
were married and some left husbands who disapproved), children, previous
occupation, and the like. But the thread that runs through these women's sto-
ries and Zanjani's analysis of them is that for most women prospectors it was an
obsession. They loved the outdoors, they loved the freedom to be free from con-
ventional lifestyles, and they loved the challenge of a lucky strike always around
the corner. Nobody summed it up better than Frances Muncaster, former society
beauty turned Alaskan prospector, who said that when she lost the strength to go
out in the wilderness, she would prefer to die.
A Mine of Her Own is enhanced by useful maps of the various mining regions
and by fascinating photographs, some showing proper ladies and some showing
women whose tough determination was caught by the camera, like the cover
photo of Idah Meacham Strobridge.
Texas Christian University JUDY ALTER
A Frontier Army Christmas. Compiled and annotated by Lori A. Cox-Paul and Dr.
James W. Wengert. (Lincoln: Nebraska State Historical Society, 1996. Pp.
xii + 136. Illustrations, preface, introduction, epilogue, bibliography, index.
ISBN 0-933307-02-0. $12-95, paper.)
"For residents of frontier army posts, the celebration of Christmas was an exer-
cise in imagination," (p. ix) explain Lori A. Cox-Paul and James W. Wengert,
compilers of this engaging little book. Through excerpts from manuscripts,
published journals, diaries, and letters, and contemporary newspaper accounts,
Cox-Paul and Wengert describe the Christmas-time experiences of the army's
post-Civil War frontier garrisons. Army personnel and their dependents often
went to great lengths to celebrate the holiday season. Company tables frequent-
ly boasted incredible feasts of meats, vegetables, pastries, desserts, and bever-
ages. Soldiers, wives, civilians, and camp followers put up decorations,

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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 101, July 1997 - April, 1998. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117155/. Accessed September 21, 2014.